Home Grow chronicles Dianna’s personal journey as a medical cannabis patient who registered and was approved by the Canadian government to grow cannabis in her home. Dianna’s experience is one grower’s point of view. Her ideas are neither the best nor the only proven methods for growing medicinal grade cannabis.
Flowering doesn’t just happen. Manipulating lighting transitions the girls from veg stage to flowering stage. Indoor cultivator/Boveda blogger Dianna Donnelly is turning out the lights on her babes—and feeling a bit apprehensive, as any mom who is “Feberizing” would.
I humanized my cannabis plants. It happened from the get go. Canada Post, their delivery service, was like the stork bringing my babes to me. I remember that day fondly. I carefully inspected them, counting leaves like they were fingers and toes.
Now my three green goddesses are reaching maturity. Like an annoying helicopter parent, I’ve held them back for as long as I can. Grow room is almost maxed—especially height! Confined space is just one of the many limitations of growing cannabis inside my apartment closet.
Cultivating cannabis has made me feel proud and purposeful. But encouraging cannabis plants to produce flowers, that makes me feel like one bad-a** Mother Nature!
FORCING CANNABIS OUT OF THE VEGETATIVE STAGE
If given ample light and love, cannabis plants will happily vegetate perpetually. I kept my plants in veg stage for 11 weeks to increase my bud yield.
Increasing darkness to encourage cannabis plants to flower seems all kinds of counter-intuitive doesn’t it? You might think more light produces more flowers. In reality, it is the change of season that prompts cannabis to flower. For outdoor crops, fewer hours of sunlight each day triggers flowers.
To encourage indoor flowering, a TOTAL LIGHTS OUT is every bit as important as LIGHTS ON. And when I say total lights out, I mean consistently complete darkness.
Here’s how I created total darkness for my home grow:
- Closed the sliding closet doors.
- Bought two heavy black-out curtains to hang in the closet doorways.
- I even covered the light on the fans with masking tape!
Enter Mother Nature Dianna! My girls went from bathing in 24 hours of lumens down to only 12. Halving their grow light time emulated the change in season. They were in the flowering stage for 13 lo-o-o-ong weeks.
Turning the lights off on that first night felt like shutting down my girls’ 24-hour dance party. Without the buzz of the lights, it was oddly quiet.
EXCUSE ME, LADIES, WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THAT DARK CLOSET?
A flowering plant’s sole purpose in life is to be pollinated. That’s how a seed-bearing fruit recreates itself. Botanical narcissism? Not long after the lighting changes, the auxins or plant hormones start to shift. My girls transitioned from growing more leaves for photosynthesis to producing flowers to attract the male of the species. (ARG, I’m encouraging adolescent girls to go through puberty!)
One way female plants attract male pollen, is to bloom and ooze out resins. The male pollen sticks to these resins. LIFE! This innate desire to thrive intrigues me. For humans, life has a million distractions that pulls us away from this core drive. But plants never lose sight of their purpose. (Forget about reincarnating as an eagle soaring in the Canadian Rockies, I want to come back as a female cannabis plant in Jamaica!)
CHANGE IN VERTICAL GROWTH
One cannabis grower’s rule of thumb is that a plant will double in height as it flowers. WHAT? IN MY APARTMENT CLOSET?! My girls were already growing really close to the light.
Well, it wasn’t that dramatic. I adjusted the hanging mechanism on the lights to increase the growth space. I wonder if this upward growth is the plants’ attempt to reach the place where the sun should be. Makes sense. Most upward growth occurs in the first several weeks of bloom.
LET THERE BE (HIGHER) LIGHT. Make sure you can alter the height of your grow lights. MacGyvering an adjustable hanging mechanism allows for a home grow’s inevitable vertical stretch.
CHANGE IN BUSHY GROWTH
Conversely, while vertical growth picks up, horizontal growth slows down. The plant simply cannot produce many leaves and flower at the same time. I did notice some new leaf growth around the tips of the upper colas, no doubt preparing for bloom.
CHANGE IN NUTRITION
Home growers experiment with nutritional additives. And the details of the process are heavily debated on home grow forums.
What and when I feed my soil depends on what their resident plants are training for—like little green athletes transitioning to a new sports season. My plant’s needs changed when it was time to flower. They once required a constant supply of nitrogen. Now they need phosphorus and calcium.
I, like some other growers, fed water only for the first two days at the 12/12 cycle. On the next feeding I introduced Botanicare® Pure Blend Pro Bloom for soil.
PURE BLEND® PRO BLOOM SOIL is a premium, bloom, base nutrient designed specifically for plants cultivated in soil. Cultivating plants in soil requires higher phosphorus levels to offset clay colloidal particles that bind up phosphorous, and to offset soil microbes that compete for the phosphorous. This formula provides the additional phosphorus and nutrients for blooming, fruiting and flowering plants while also feeding the microorganisms.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HOME GROW LIGHTING ISN’T CONSISTENT?
In the beginning, consistency helps blooms appear more quickly. Later in the bloom, consistency keeps the cannabis plant in distinct phases.
Remember, outdoor grows are ruled by the season; not necessarily by the light. By the time the outdoor cannabis plant gets to the flowering stage, she is one with nature. By now, she feels the changing season in both the hours of sunlight and hours of moonlight. Indoor grows are manipulated by a home cultivator’s actions and how she controls the light.
Leaving the lights on too long or at inconsistent intervals confuses the cannabis plants. They don’t know if they’re vegging or flowering. Any lapse from the norm stresses the plant, which causes her to lose faith in the growing process. She can overreact, so-to-speak. Fearing that the pollen is never going to come, she takes matters into her own hands. Stress can cause female plants to produce male flowers to guarantee pollination. When this happens, you now have a hermaphrodite cannabis plant.
Many growers say that the seeds of a hermaphroditic plant aren’t genetically stable. [The viability of these seeds is heavily debated.] If you’re cultivating your own medicine like I am, a hermaphrodite cannabis plant is undesirable. A “hermie” won’t produce the quality medicine I want to consume. Some strains are actually genetically pre-destined to produce more hermaphrodites. Good question to ask your cannabis clone or seed provider before you get your heart set on a particular strain.
I CREATED A TEENAGE HERMAPHRODITE! Because of limited light sources, I kept moving her from under 300-watt lights to an Aerogarden®, which is about 100 watts. The back and forth in inconsistent light was enough to stress her out and she turned herself into a hermaphrodite. What should you do if you run across a hermaphrodite in your cannabis crop?
HOW LONG UNTIL FLOWERS?
Within a week my cannabis ladies should show the first signs of flowering. I can’t help wonder what they thought when the lights went out. (I know, I’m humanizing my little darlings again.) Do plants sleep? Do my girls dream of giant suns in the sky? Are they relieved? Or are they randy?
MY GIRLS GO TO FLOWER! Considering how much their size varied in the beginning, the size of cannabis plants was more consistent as they went to flower. Surprising!
– Dianna Donnelly
Dianna Donnelly is a cannabis educator, blogger, and freelance writer living in Kingston, Ontario. She counsels new patients on the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis and believes that with enough time, cannabis, and coconut oil she can heal the world.
Dianna Donnelly’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda of any of the products, services or opinions of Dianna Donnelly. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Dianna Donnelly for answers to questions regarding her content.